Part of the fun of my inaugural reviewing of 31 Christmas films in December is finding new ones. Sure, I will review some of my favorites and some of the more popular holiday movies, but discovering new films is always a treat. Such is the case with Chandler Christmas Getaway, released on the Up TV Network in 2018. It wasn’t until after my viewing I found out it is the fifth in a series of Chandler TV movies, which now makes some of the confusion I felt make sense.
The movie was written and directed by Rhonda Baraka who is an NAACP-nominated writer-director. She has written several Christmas movies, even outside of the Chandler series. The film stars Nadej K Bailey, Karon Riley, Victoria Rowell, Deetta West, Malinda Williams, Chrystale Wilson and also Gregory Alan Williams, a Des Moines native I didn’t recognize until the film was over.
The Chandlers are big, extended family. When they all have different ideas on what to cook for Christmas dinner from fettuccini to oxtail, they decide to rent an RV and go to a “rustic cabin” in the mountains. Once they get there, they find out they are not as close as they might like, as several relationships are tested. Stephanie and Marci decide to dissolve their business while patriarch Donald is trying to make newly adopted daughter Denny the spitting image of his older daughter.
The rustic cabin is anything but. It is a huge house with a 3-car garage and a swimming pool with a slide. Apparently, they brought enough Christmas decorations to decorate the house and in the blink of an eye, the house is decked out in the holiday spirit. It was at this point, having not seen the other films, I was confused. I wanted to know how Donald and his wife came to adopt Denny. I was also confused because when the kid they refer to as “the baby” (Lola Riley) is finally on-screen, she looks to be somewhere between 4-5 years old. Technically she would be 3 because she was born in the 2015 film A Baby for Christmas. I also kept wondering if the kid’s name is “Chandler Chandler” but it is Chandler Kirkland. Again, if you have been following the movies for the past 5-6 years, there are several things you would know about this family, but me coming in at the most recent was sometimes confusing.
The feuding throughout the film between Stephanie and Marci boils over, while Denny is trying unsuccessfully to bake cookies. Eventually, Marci and Denny get lost in the woods and are rescued. Marci and Stephanie reconcile, and just as Donald finishes reading the Christmas story in the bible, the lights go on after power is restored from a blackout that occurred a few days before.
This TV movie had a lot of great moments between a lot of feuding scenes, which are the norm for the series of films from what I have read. One of the best scenes was the family in the backyard around a fire pit where instead of making a toast, they were “toasting” marshmallows. Nadej Bailey is a wonderful actress that carries the film as she interacts with each of the separate family members, a great accomplishment for such a young actress.
All in all, a fun and entertaining TV movie. Now knowing there are four others, I will definitely give them a watch as well.
You can watch Chandler Christmas Getaway on SlingTV or on Amazon Prime.